Treasure

 

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In the middle of all the largeness of Florida…the enormous skies and long stretches of sand and the huge waves and crashing surf…we found so many small treasures.

Shark's teeth

Shark’s teeth

Treasure: pretty shells and a piece of unearthed costume jewelry

Treasure: pretty shells and a piece of unearthed costume jewelry

Ever since we studied Florida state in our second grade curriculum this year, Izzy has been on a mission to find one of two things: pirate treasure and an oyster with a real pearl inside. He never tired of endless conversations, his eyes round and dreamy, about the natives on some small Florida island who found gold coins washed a breach their shores several years ago…swept up from the ruins of sunken Spanish galleons and brought into the light by whirling stormy seas. He felt sure that this trip was his big chance to get in on all the glory and adventure of the forgotten and lost bounty of the ocean. He gave it his best and he dug deep. And though, gold was never discovered glinting in the sun, and though the lost pearl was never found cushioned in the soft bed of an oyster…he did find treasure. He sifted through sand for hours and was rewarded with a handful of sharp-pointed black shark’s teeth…the famous and plentiful fossils of the North Point Beaches. Another exciting discovery was miniature clams the size of dimes, that if plucked from the waves and placed on the sand…would open just slightly so the tiny animal inside could dig its way back under the beach and disappear from sight, dragging its little shell house behind it.

Exploring Boca Grande Island via golf cart and bike...

Exploring Boca Grande Island via golf cart and bike…

The beautiful, little, lonely church on Gazperilla Sound.

The beautiful, little, lonely church on Gazperilla Sound.

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On Boca Grande Island out on Gazperilla Sound, we saw a school of dolphins arching like graceful black rainbows through the white-capped waves, feasting on the abundance of fish that the men on shore were desperately trying to pull in. Also, while walking those windy beaches, we watched a falcon snatch a shimmering, slippery fish right out of the roaring waters. The falcon fought like a crazed thing, trapezing through the salty air, trying to keep it’s talons deep into the sliver of thrashing silver…not wanting to lose his hard-earned dinner. We hang onto these moments tenaciously in our memories, as if they were ancient gems wrapped tight in our fingers. Small treasures. Small, like the miniscule bright green and soft, muddy brown lizards that we ran into everywhere…or rather, that ran into us. (Eek!)

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 Seth stopped here to enquire about a possible deep sea fishing expedition. I said, "No way!" By the looks of the 'office", I didn't even want to know what shape the boats were in. I didn't want him and the boys to end up "lost at sea".


Seth stopped here to enquire about a possible deep sea fishing expedition. I said, “No way!” By the looks of the ‘office”, I didn’t even want to know what shape the boats were in. I didn’t want him and the boys to end up “lost at sea”.

Stopping for snacks for the never-full, always hungry. (sigh)

Stopping for snacks for the never-full, always hungry. (sigh)

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This is the "backyard" of the South Beach Bar and Grill. You can either walk up from the beach in the back door or drive in your car and park in the front parking lot.  We wanted to eat outside, but the snapping evening wind was just brisk enough to drive us indoors...

This is the “backyard” of the South Beach Bar and Grill. You can either walk up from the beach in the back door or drive in your car and park in the front parking lot. We wanted to eat outside, but the snapping evening wind was just brisk enough to drive us indoors…

Waiting for our food...somebody's exhausted

Waiting for our food…somebody’s exhausted

The best fish tacos ever...please don't drool on the screen.

The best fish tacos ever…please don’t drool on the screen.

On Friday, we returned to Stump Pass Beach State Park for one last frolic in the sand. Parking there was limited…which usually meant a long wait for a parking spot…but it also meant, less people. And then, with only a five minute walk down the beach, there usually could be found a long stretch of sand all to one’s self. Ephraim was a bit melancholy as he had watched men offshore, beach fishing all week, and was so regretful of leaving his beloved fishing pole at home, leaning against the garage wall.

On this particular day, we finally found a spot to set up our towels and umbrellas away from nearly all beach traffic with an exception of one lone fisherman and his sun-bathing wife a short distance away. After the scramble of unloading and lathering everyone up with sunscreen, I pulled on my sun glasses, laid my chair down flat, and closed my eyes…hoping for five minutes of relaxation before the first “Watch me, Mommy!” or the first argument over who got what bucket and what shovel. Suddenly, I felt a long, cold shadow fall over me and heard a deep voice say, “Excuse me, ma’am”. It surprised me so much, that I sat up with a start, and my lawn chair flipped shut, wildly, smacking me in the back. Hovering between me and the sun, I saw an enormous pair of shoulders, a broad sun-tanned hairy chest, and a wild mane of wind-whipped hair. It was the fisherman who introduced himself as “Tom from Billings, Montana”. It did seem, upon appearance, that he would be at home in the West…looking for all the world like a wild steer handler, rather than a retiree whiling away a few hours on a southern shore. He commented that he had been observing my sons as they watched him fish…and that he wanted to let them have a go at it. I must have shown some concern about their inexperience and his expensive equipment…because he reassured me that he had just retired from twenty years as an Outdoor Education Instructor for middle-schoolers, and was quite accustomed to teaching young boys how to fish and hunt. He added to that repertoire that he was also a grandpa missing his four grand-kids… so far away in Montana. Thus, it was that Ephraim’s longing was fulfilled, and he complete with an excellent and attentive teacher, top-of-the-line fishing gear, and expensive shrimp bait…pulled in two beautiful gleaming white Pompano out of the pounding surf with a big white grin splitting his youthful eager face. Of all the people that could have been our “neighbors” for an afternoon on the sand, we found our way to the side of big-hearted “Uncle Tom”…a far cry from the glaring fishermen who threw daggers with their eyes when one of my children happened to romp to close to their meticulously arranged gear. Little treasures. Small remembrances shining like jewels every time we think back…

"Uncle Tom" from Billings, Montana

“Uncle Tom” from Billings, Montana

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I met the most darling elderly gardener on Boca Grande…while peeking through an enormous gated entrance to an 1800′s Spanish villa. He had long soft white hair and deeply tanned leathery skin. Handsome and chivalrous, he offered to let me come in and photograph the gardens while he pruned and weeded. I had only time to take a photo of the magnificent walkway through the palms that ended in a graceful stone arch overlooking the rolling ocean before Seth picked me up on our rented golf cart. It was just enough time for the gardener to tell me that twice a year the sun set perfectly in the middle of that arch…drawing photographers from all over to capture this breathtaking fleeting moment. He asked me if I would still be around on March 26th…the next time this phenomenon would take place. My face fell and I shook my head no. He just smiled and said, no problem, that he would take one in my honor. Ah, treasures…small, indeed, but precious.

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One evening, while climbing out of the Suburban to go watch the sunset at Stump Beach, Ephraim put his hands in the pockets of the Goodwill shorts I had purchased for him before we left for Florida…and pulled out a wad of well-washed money…a twenty and seven ones..most unfortunately forgotten by the previous owners…and we all hooted and Seth used it to treat me to an order of crabcakes, slathered in lemon and butter. And we were rich on these moments of unexpected goodness and beauty…lavishly poured upon us from a good Giver who loves to bestow gifts upon His children.

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The pile of books I brought to read.  Oh, the irony. I read three paragraphs on the first book on the pile.  That's it. Vacation can keep a person pretty busy.

The pile of books I brought to read. Oh, the irony. I read three paragraphs of the first book on the pile. That’s it. Vacation can keep a person pretty busy.

For every Egret that ate our morning breakfast crumbs off of the patio, every tropical bird or alligator that we caught a fleeting glimpse of, every flaming strand of Weigela that climbed the stucco walls of the surrounding gardens, every warm ray of golden light, every sailing cloud, we were yet the wealthier…souls spilling over with the priceless wonder of experience.

A kind elderly lady watching the sunset was kind enough to click our picture.

A kind elderly lady watching the sunset was kind enough to click our picture.

We return to Ohio with empty pockets, but hearts full of plunder…pirates, if you will, in the most gracious of terms, hoarding up all these glorious glimpses of God, for that day when their flashing brightness will cheer, again, our fainting spirits.

Last walk on the last evening...Florida, goodbye!

Last walk on the last evening…Florida, goodbye!

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8 Comments

  1. I am always in awe of these places with their gorgeous architecture or mountain grandeur and I wonder if the natives ever cease to see the beauty. Makes me long to see my own surroundings in a fresh way. So thankful you could get away as a family – and I love the Uncle Tom story, I bet it blessed him as much as it blessed your boys!

  2. Oh, God bless the Uncle Toms of this world. Brings tears to my eyes. I so love that you were able to steal away and bask in the Fathers good gifts to you all. Love your family pic too!!

  3. Sherilyn

    Oh Hav, I’m so so happy you got to go to Florida! We adore FL! It just seems to be our spot, there’s nothing like that warm sunshine in the middle of winter! And it’s been a long winter…we didn’t get to go this year as a family but we are already dreaming of next year. I’ve enjoyed your last few posts, just haven’t commented, but I totally “get” you. So glad you’re back to blogging! Love ya much!

  4. Mama Boyd

    Ahhhh, Havilah, I also am “pirating” away treasures, as I live vicariously through you, so glad you were there and “healed”. I sit on my well-worn couch, trying not to cough or covet, or have a pity party. I am glad for modern medicine in the midst of long, sinusitis winters. I believe I’ll recover, and this was a great trip for me, too. Thanks for the lovely pictures and beautiful grandchildren. Love-n-Prayers, Mama

  5. Looks like a picture perfect vacation! You’ve got us all psyched now. =) Thanks for sharing in your beautiful way!

  6. I love your pictures! I’ve just started photography classes, yours are beautiful…we are just starting to study composition….yours are great! Love your writing too. I can relate to the hard of adoption, and the joy. Blessed to have found your blog. Hugs from Kansas.

  7. Havilah

    Hi, Judy from Kansas! Thank you for your kind comments! I would love to hear your adoption stories, see your pictures, and read your compositions! Let me know if you have a blog I can stop by and visit! Blessings on you and yours, today!

  8. I see a lot of interesting posts on your page. You have to spend a lot
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